Eagle Eyes

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This is Ken Lockwood, standing nose to beak with Gracie, a Golden Eagle.

She was shot in Western Kansas. Her humerus, the largest wing bone and the one closest to the body, was broken in three places. Somehow she managed to live on the ground long enough for the bone to calcify, which would have been about three weeks, before she was found. She was taken to Ken’s center, where she was gentle and cooperative. “Right from the beginning, she never tried to hurt me, ” says Ken. She could fly, but not well enough to live in the wild. Had she been aggressive and/or badly stressed by captivity, Ken would have taken her to Kansas State University, where veterinarians might have been able to re-break her bone, shave off the extra calcium, and pin her wing with metal rods until it healed correctly. It would have been a long and painful process, though, and considering her disposition, Ken didn’t want to put her through it.

She’s now an education bird, traveling to schools and clubs and fairs to spread the word about wildlife. People gasp when they see how big and beautiful she is, and gasp again when they learn someone shot her out of the air. Occasionally people criticize wildlife rehabilitators, saying what we do is a drop in the bucket. But of all the people who have been awed by Gracie, how many might have mentioned her to a crazy friend who tends to pull the trigger when he sees a big, dark silhouette? Because of what wildlife rehabilitators do and the environmental education we provide, how many birds who might have ended up like Gracie are still soaring through the skies?

Ken is the Director of the Eagle Valley Raptor Center in Cheney, Kansas. Please  take a look at his great website and beautiful birds:


or contact RaptorCare@aol.com

Both photos by Eagle Valley Raptor Center


About suziegilbert

I live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley and have been rehabbing birds for over twenty years. I’ve written a memoir about the slippery slope all rehabbers eventually slide down, called “Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings,” published in 2009 by HarperCollins; and a children's book called "Hawk Hill," published in 1996 by Chronicle Books. I also write all kinds of freelance content. Please see my website, www.suziegilbert.com
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8 Responses to Eagle Eyes

  1. Cronin says:

    This is a lovely story. Kudos to Ken and his work. Is there a formal network amongst you rehabbers, or do you just find each other?

  2. suziegilbert says:

    Hi John, we find each other at conferences and on-line, but especially through listservs. Each one has a different focus. I know Ken through Raptorcare, a listserv moderated by Louise Shimmel of the Cascades Raptor Center, in Eugene, Oregon. You post a question about a bird you have in treatment, and everyone writes back and helps you – rehabbers are so generous with their knowledge and supportive of each other, it’s just a godsend.

  3. Doug Tice says:

    Thank you Ken for all the wonderful work you do! These birds are amazing and I’m glad you ate around to care for them.

  4. Jodi says:

    Oh Gracie you are lovely, thank you for saving her!

  5. e h lamore says:

    It does matter, I feel like it is a drop in the bucket rehabbing a handful of birds each year, but I wouldnt change a thing about it, trying is doing! yay for all of us!

  6. Thomas says:

    Suzie, thanks for a happy story with a great ending. Ken, thanks for the superb commitment to these magnificent animals. And that praise comes from the heart of a former rehabber who worked with what that big bird kills and eats! My heart is more aligned with the prey, not the predator. But in the larger scheme rehabbers all hate to see any animal suffer, especially at the hands of uncaring humans. Great work, Ken!

  7. Barbara Glanz says:

    Kudos to all the rehabbers! You are awesome inspiration to help save what we can, where we can, from turtles on the highway to yard birds stunned by flights into glass. Gracie serves as a powerful reminder that every bird counts. Thanks for sharing her story with us.

  8. What a great story and a testimonial to us rehabilitators. Thank you.
    Laura Westlake

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